Book Blitz & Giveaway: Falling for You (Charlotte Blake)

Falling For You
Charlotte Blake
(Great Escapes, #1)
Publication date: September 12th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Sometimes love finds you whether you want it to or not …

Grace Clark is a star at her job as an art director at Boston’s biggest advertising firm. But inside she’s still mourning the loss of her sister two years ago. Losing Mia and a failed engagement have been enough to keep her heart on lockdown ever since.

Luke Arnold is tired of relationships that don’t go anywhere. Usually women are all over him, but it’s been years since he’s met someone he could really fall for.

But when he sees Grace from across the room at the Redview Lodge, he can’t keep his eyes off her. They meet in the New Hampshire mountains over Thanksgiving, and they find in one another something that neither of them expected.

18+
NOTE: This STAND-ALONE romance contains very steamy love scenes. All of the books in the Great Escapes series can be read in any order.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Mia turned up the radio as her sedan flew across the slick road.

Let’s Go Crazy.

She was excited about the trip home. She had been living in New York, and despite the close proximity to Boston, she hadn’t seen her sister, Grace, for four months. Mia was just finishing school, and between internships and the huge amount of work she had been putting in to earn her MBA, there just wasn’t any time. She was lucky to have a sister like Grace. She understood when Mia was too busy to talk. And with Grace, she never needed to feel pressured to have a perfect relationship. When they did get a chance to see each other, it was as if they had never been apart.

Though lately Mia had been trying to make extra time to connect with her heartbroken sister, at least on the phone. Grace was just getting on her feet again after a long depression. Her fiancé had pulled a fast one on her, and there had been a few months of Mia visiting her often, trying to coax her off the couch and into therapy. Grace had been absent from work long enough that her job was on the line. She had some savings, but not enough to last her more than a few months.

Grace had resisted at first, but Mia had seen this kind of thing before and had known exactly what to do. In the end, she’d found the right doctor and therapist for her sister and then harassed her until she made, and kept, appointments with them. It took some time, but eventually she had started to come back to herself. Mia credited the meds more than anything, though she knew Grace hated having to take them.

She was back to work now, though, busy again, and they still talked a couple times a week to touch base, more if Grace needed someone to cry to. Mia was relieved that she would have a chance to focus on her for a bit, and was glad the mellow holiday at home wouldn’t distract them too much. There were lots of tears in those weekly calls, and though they’d ebbed away a bit, she couldn’t wait to wrap her arms around her sister in a big bear hug.

She and Grace had grown up at their parents’ place in Boston. It had been even longer since she had seen them, and she couldn’t wait to catch up on all the family gossip. Her mom tended to try to keep family secrets just that: secret. But her dad had let slip that her aunt’s daughter had been working, no joke, as a stripper. Everyone in the family was in a tizzy about it, but were too afraid to confront her. Mia would have loved the opportunity to get the details first hand, but really she had been relieved to find out that her aunt and cousin would not be joining them for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Probably too embarrassed, she thought.

She laughed aloud as the music played. She had never been close with her cousin, but Angie had been known to jump around from school to school, project to project, job to job. Whatever the story was, Mia was sure there would be plenty of secondhand lurid details once she pulled into the driveway. She’d get her mom to talk, even if it took all week.

It was getting late, nearly eleven, and she was eager to get there. She had expected to arrive by nine, but no such luck. The traffic out of the city had lasted for hours. But now she was on the move again. The snow had turned to rain, which meant the roads were pretty clear now, and she pushed on the gas a little harder.

The music on the radio changed, and a moment later Winter Wonderland was blasting through her speakers.

“Aw, yuck!” she shouted at the radio, wrenching the volume down.

It wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet, and already with the Christmas music! The last thing she needed was to get that junk spinning through her head all night long.

She picked up her phone to switch to her playlist. She was an expert at her phone, and could make most of the selections, even texting, without even looking at the thing. One day they’d probably just implant the information into people’s brains somehow, but for now she just had to wing it like everyone else.

But it was late, and she was on the freeway. She needed to look at the screen to select some different music. She checked around her for cops and then waited for a straight stretch of road. She held the phone up to the steering wheel so she could glance back and forth between the screen and the road, scrolling down the list, searching for something classic, something she could sing to, to wake her up a little for the last hour of the drive. More Prince, maybe.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw a movement, something white speeding by her passenger side window. A motorcycle? No.

It was a truck, and it was going way too fast. He was going to cut her off. She dropped her phone and blared her horn, then watched in horror as it tipped onto two wheels, about to flip over right in front of her.

How was this happening?

She steered right to get out of the way. The back end of the truck clipped her car at just the right spot. Just the wrong spot.

She was airborne. There was no sound but for her own blood pumping, ringing in her ears.

Time slowed down.

As her car flipped through the air again and again, her thoughts went blank. Adrenaline rushed through her body as the first airbag went off, but when the car smashed upside down onto the pavement, she only registered the pain.

And then it was over.

She was gone.

 

Author Bio:

I am happy to call the San Francisco Bay Area home, where I lives with my husband, two kids, one dog and three cats. I started writing at an early age, but have only been writing novels for the past five years. I love the idea of love conquering all, and that is what drove me to begin the Great Escapes series, where the reader follows couples meeting up in exotic locations around the world. In this series, each book is a stand-alone, and each can be read in any order.

But readers, be forewarned, there is a healthy amount of steam in these books!

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy Great Escapes!

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Reboot Tour & Giveaway: Lord of the White Hell (Ginn Hale)

Title: Lord of the White Hell Book one

 Series: The Cadeleonian Series Volume One

 Publisher: Blind Eye Books

 Release Date (Print & Ebook): August, 2010

 Length (Print & Ebook): 362 pages

 Subgenre: High fantasy, school story, YA/NA, epic fantasy

Book blurb: Kiram Kir-Zaki may be considered a mechanist prodigy among his own people, but when he becomes the first Haldiim ever admitted to the prestigious Sagrada Academy, he is thrown into a world where power, superstition and swordplay outweigh even the most scholarly of achievements.

But when the intimidation from his Cadeleonian classmates turns bloody, Kiram unexpectedly finds himself befriended by Javier Tornesal, the leader of a group of cardsharps, duelists and lotharios who call themselves Hellions.

However Javier is a dangerous friend to have. Wielder of the White Hell and sole heir of a Dukedom, he is surrounded by rumors of forbidden seductions, murder and damnation. His enemies are many and any one of his secrets could not only end his life but Kiram’s as well.

Buy Links: Amazon | Smashwords

Sale info: Lord of the White Hell will be reduced to $2.99 from 9/11 – 9/16.

Ginn Hale about Lord of the White Hell: “While writing Lord of the White Hell I wanted very much to create characters who represented a greater diversity of race, sexuality and religion than I’d often seen in tales of fantasy and romance. And of course I wanted them to have a rollicking adventure as well!”

 

Editorial Reviews:

“An intricate world, well-integrated social issues, believable sexual encounters, and an interesting mystery make this dense, languorous tale appealing for any fan of romantic fantasy.” –Publishers Weekly

“Lushly detailed, with believable, fully developed characters, this fantasy with homoerotic overtones is reminiscent of Mercedes Lackey’s Vanyel novels and should appeal to a similar readership.”— Library Journal

“There is something almost intoxicating about Ginn Hale’s work. Her characters are unforgettable and her plots mesmerizing. The imagery in Lord of the White Hell blazes from the page with ferocious brightness.”— Josh Lanyon

Teasers

Maybe now that they were on good terms he could convince Javier to let him have a look at that book. It was worth a try, anyway.

“Does Calixto’s diary mention Yassin Lif-Harun? He was one of the defenders of the academy,” he said casually.

Javier studied Kiram over the top of the book.

“I believe I already explained the fee I would require for access to my deranged ancestor’s autobiography.”

“Don’t be an ass,” Kiram replied. “I need the information for my history essay.”

Javier leaned back in his chair and stretched out his long legs.

“I imagine that only increases the value, then.”

“I’m not selling you my soul.”

“What about your body?”

Kiram felt his entire face flush red, not because he was shocked by Javier’s suggestion, but in shame at his own desire to accept. This was just the way Javier played with the people around him. Kiram knew that, but Javier’s slow, suggestive smile still affected him.

Kiram lowered his face, pretending to look over his notes one more time.

“I don’t even know if you have anything of value in the book,” Kiram said primly.

“My God, Kiram.” Javier laughed. “I never expect you to take me up on these things. You seem so demure most of the time.”

“I’m not demure. I just have some self-restraint.”

“But not, it seems, when it comes to the pursuit of knowledge. You’re willing to sell your body for a look at a book.” Javier held the diary up as if it were a shimmering enticement.

“No, I refuse to sell my body.” Kiram was a little amazed to realize that he’d grown used to these kinds of exchanges with Javier. “Unless you can guarantee that your book has any information that would be of use to me.”

Javier bounded up from his chair and sat down on the edge of Kiram’s bed, leaning in close. “If that’s the case, then I propose a little demonstration of quality on both our parts.”

Author Bio

 

Award-winning author Ginn Hale lives in the Pacific Northwest with her lovely wife and their ancient, evil cat.

She spends the rainy days admiring local fungi. The stormy nights, she spends writing science-fiction and fantasy stories featuring LGBT protagonists. (Attempts to convince the cat to be less evil have been largely abandoned.)

 

Connect with Ginn: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Author Site

 

Giveaway: 

To win 3 e-copies of Lord of the White Hell

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Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Saved (AM Arthur)

Title:  Saved

Series: Breaking Free #1

Author: A.M. Arthur

Publisher: Briggs-King Books

Release Date: September 12, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 67,000 words

Genre: Romance, non-shifter Omegaverse, alternate universe, mpreg

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Synopsis

He didn’t want an alpha to save him, but fate had other ideas…

Braun Etting was raised to know his place as an omega by his alpha father’s cruel words and fast fists, and he expects nothing but violence from the alpha who may one day mate him. His older brother Kell mated a cruel alpha who abuses him daily, and Braun is terrified of that seemingly inevitable future. When Braun’s father dies in a car crash, leaving Braun an orphan, he’s sent to a halfway house for omegas. But on his fourth night there, he witnesses a horrifying crime that sends him fleeing to the streets alone—and edging into his first heat.

Tarek Bloom is settled in his workaholic, single lifestyle, even if it is somewhat embarrassing to be a twenty-eight year-old unmated alpha. He enjoys his job as a constable, helping people and solving problems, so he isn’t prepared for his life to flip upside-down when he walks into his beta friend Dex’s apartment to help with “a problem.”

The problem turns out to be an unmated, nearly in-heat omega orphan who Dex and his husband rescued off the street last night. The even bigger problem is that Tarek feels the mating bond for this terrified omega immediately—and he’s pretty sure the omega feels it, too. But Braun hates alphas as a general rule, and no way is he giving in to the bond. All mating leads to is violence and suffering, so no thank you. But Tarek’s gentle kindness slips under Braun’s emotional shields, and Braun begins to want. To dream. All Braun has ever known is violent alphas, but Tarek is determined to make Braun trust him—and to trust in the idea of their happily ever after.

NOTE: This is a non-shifter Omegaverse story with alpha/omega/beta dynamics, heats, knotting, and mpreg. In this world, omegas are second-class citizens with few civil rights and almost no protections under the law. Trigger warnings for physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. 67,000 words.

Excerpt

“Would you be able to describe exactly what you saw that night in detail?” Tarek pulled a notepad and pen out of his front pocket.

Braun’s entire body went rigid. “Why? Who are you really?”

“I really am Tarek Bloom.” For a moment, he actually seemed contrite. “What I didn’t tell you is that I’m also a constable.”

“Shit.” Braun bolted out of his chair and toward the front door, fork still in his hand.

In a flurry of movement, Tarek was in front of him, blocking his path to the door, and Braun lashed out with the fork. Dex grabbed his wrist and plucked the fork out of his hand, but that didn’t stop Braun from swinging. He punched Tarek in the chest. Twice. Panic settled in, overriding his common sense, and he tried to push past the brick wall of a man.

“Let me go! I won’t go back, I won’t!”

Arms wrapped around his torso from behind, pinning his arms to his sides. Serge’s comforting scent settled his racing mind a bit, but it was Tarek’s hand on the back of his neck that settled Braun completely.

“Calm down, firecracker,” Tarek said. His deep voice soothed Braun’s frazzled nerves, and his touch sent his pulse racing with delight. “You’re still safe, I promise. No one here wants to hurt you.”

“Why do you care?” Braun snarled. “I’m just some useless omega you’ve known for twenty minutes.”

“You’re far from useless, little one.”

Tarek’s other hand rose, nearing Braun’s face. Braun snapped at his fingers. “I’m only a womb to you.”

“Far from it, my firecracker.” The hand on his neck squeezed. “Far from it.”

The grounding touch made Braun want to roll over and show his belly, but he was done being passed around. Done letting other people control his life. He didn’t want to feel this mating bond to Tarek, but he also couldn’t turn it off. Even with the heat block, Tarek was under his skin, doing funny things to his insides.

Angry and confused, Braun dared look an alpha in the eye.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.

When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail | A.M.’s Pot O Gold | Newsletter

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Book Blitz & Giveaway: Times Square (Jana Aston)

Times Square
Jana Aston
Publication date: September 18th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

A STANDALONE romance from New York Times bestselling author Jana Aston

Once in a while right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.

I saw that quote about fairy tales embroidered on a decorative pillow at a home decorating store. Honestly, it pissed me off. Retail propaganda aimed to promote sales when any single girl in the city could tell them they’d sell more if they’d offer Keep Your Pants On, Asshole instead.

But it’s fine. I don’t have room for decorative pillows anyway.

And I don’t have time for distractions.

Which is why I’m ignoring the distraction staring at me right now. The one who looks like he belongs on a billboard campaign. The one with the full lips and the cocky smile. The one refusing to look away even when I give him my best no way scowl.

The one headed in my direction. Right now.

*Times Square was previously published inside the Love In Transit anthology.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

 

Author Bio:

Jana Aston likes cats, big coffee cups and books about billionaires who deflower virgins. She wrote her debut novel while fielding customer service calls about electrical bills, and she’s ever grateful for the fictional gynecologist in Wrong that readers embraced so much she was able to make working in her pajamas a reality. Jana’s novels have appeared on the NYT, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, some multiple times. She likes multiples.

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Book Blitz & Giveaway: The Future Of Us (Aubrey Parker)

The Future of Us
Aubrey Parker
(The Future of Sex, #12)
Publication date: September 3rd 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Science Fiction

Love doesn’t matter. Romance doesn’t exist.

(The final installment in The Future of Sex series)

In the year 2060, sex is a game of extremes. No desire is unexplored and even the unimaginable is possible.

Alexa Mathis, head of the monolithic O Corporation, has found a prodigy she believes will drive her sex empire to rapturous new limits: Chloe Shaw, a common girl with uncanny gifts that make her a powerful escort.

Chloe doesn’t believe in love. She believes in ecstasy, and her employer’s newest tool to usher “the future of sex”: an intelligent network known as The Beam.

And so it is until she meets Andrew … and the whole world changes.

The Future of Sex is a 12-part serial that is being published in installments. As such, episodes are short and sometimes end on cliffhangers.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

She looked at Andrew for a long second, then let the moment hang.

There were no words. Only the strange miasma between them: pain, and anger, and betrayal, and untruth, and love.

Mostly love.

But love didn’t erase the negatives. Her heart wanted to forgive him. He even had good excuses — interestingly, provided for her by Alexa rather than Andrew himself. Through her version of events, Chloe had come to see how tightly Andrew had been bound and how hard he’d fought to extricate them both.

But no matter what she understood and no matter how great the love behind it all, Chloe still felt the hurt. She still felt the betrayal.

“You were the person I went to when I felt like everyone was against me, Andrew. You were my port in the storm.”

It wasn’t a loving thing to say, and Andrew knew it. She wasn’t wrapping verbal arms around him. She was telling him how completely she’d bared her soul before he’d plunged his twisting knife inside her.

“I know.”

“My only friend in the city is Slava, and we only got closer after Voyos. She covered for me, you know. When I was on Voyos, I was supposed to be working. I was supposed to be with clients, but I didn’t want to be. So, I never worked alone. I was always with Slava, and I let her do all the work so that I could stay true to you. But what kind of backward notion is staying true to you in this day and age?”

Andrew looked touched, but he hid his smile. He hadn’t earned the right and knew it.

“My mom was no help; she was half my problem. The way things were changing at work was another one, and the weird shit they had me doing at work — stuff I’m only understanding now — was yet another. Everything was uncertain. So much still is. Everything but you, Andrew. You were the one person I could talk to. You were the only thing I thought I could count on.”

Andrew exhaled, clearly crushed. He looked like he wanted to apologize again, but it was still Chloe’s turn to speak.

“That’s the worst part of this. It’s not that I thought I loved you. It was that I’d been so careful not to truly love anyone other than my family, then decided to break my own rule and ended up regretting it. The mental wall I told you about? I took it down. I figured that there wasn’t any point. Let sex and love mix, I told myself. I couldn’t bring myself to have sex with other guys, so I tore that division all the way down. Just you and me. I’d find ways to adapt to my job, even if it meant less money and fame. What could it possibly hurt?”

She looked at Andrew, then back down.

“I told you about how much O was confusing me. How uneasy they were making me. They were experimenting on me like a lab rat, Andrew! And who did I go to for comfort? You — a part of the problem. You weren’t my safe place. You were part of the experiment.”

“I didn’t want to be. Not after I saw where it was headed. Not once I got to know you.”

“But you were,” Chloe said.

And Andrew nodded. “Yes.”

 

Author Bio:

I love to write stories with characters that feel real enough to friend on Facebook, or slap across the face. I write to make you feel, think, and burn with the thrill that can only come from getting lost in the pages. I love to write unforgettable characters who wrestle with life’s largest problems. My books may always end with a Happily Ever After, but there will always be drama on the way there.

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Release Blitz & Giveaway: Be My Best Man (Con Riley)

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 260 pages
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Blurb

Will Jason’s third time as a best man lead to first-time love for Vanya?

After fleeing violence in Moscow, student teacher Vanya Petrov winds up lonely in a run-down London hostel. At least visiting the Bond Street store where his roommate works lets him practice his English, but as Vanya’s vocabulary expands, so does his isolation, especially when he sees happy couples planning their perfect weddings.

According to Jason Balfour, weddings are a waste of time and money. After all, he’s been best man for his brother twice already. Saying that a third marriage will end in divorce too leads to an angry ultimatum: to save his relationship with his brother, Jason must meet his fiancée, at last, and make a good first impression.

Jason’s need to dress to impress brings him and Vanya together. Language is no barrier to falling in love with the young and fragile Russian, and neither is their age difference. But Vanya’s bruised soul carries secrets that could rip them apart. As the wedding draws near, Vanya must confess, and soon, or risk losing Jason—his own best man in Britain.
Author Bio
 

Con Riley lives on the wild and rugged Devonshire coast, with her head in the clouds, and her feet in the Atlantic Ocean.

Injury curtailed her enjoyment of outdoor pursuits, so writing fiction now fills her free time. Love, loss, and redemption shape her romance stories, and her characters are flawed in ways that makes them live and breathe.

When not people watching, or wrangling her own boy band of teen sons, she spends time staring at the sea from her kitchen window. If you see her, don’t disturb her—she’s probably thinking up new plots.

 

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Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: A Matter of Courage (J.C. Long)

Title:  A Matter of Courage

Series: Hong Kong Nights, Book Two

Author: J.C. Long

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 4, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 81400

Genre: Contemporary, mafia, criminals, friends to lovers, alcohol use, slow burn

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Synopsis

Winston Chang has spent much of his young life admiring the Dragons who have kept his area safe and fought off the gangs that would bring violence to their area. Now that he’s an adult, he wants nothing more than to join the Dragons and live up to those standards.

The opportunity presents itself when his passion and knowledge of cars is just what the Dragons need. One of their own has been killed and his death seems linked to his involvement with the illegal racing scene known as the Dark Streets. Winston is needed to infiltrate the scene and find out who is responsible and why.

Steel has always been Winston’s best friend, and Winston has always been there to get him out of trouble. Just as the stress in Winston’s life reaches its peak, the relationship between Winston and Steel begins to change in ways neither of them expected.

Will Winston and Steel be able to find the courage to face not only the unknown killer stalking the Dark Streets racers but also their growing feelings?

Excerpt

A Matter of Courage
J.C. Long © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Winston Chang awoke with a splitting headache, a mouth that tasted like rubbing alcohol, and the feeling that he was on a boat out at sea during a storm. His stomach flip-flopped just from opening his eyes, and he let out a pitiful groan. He closed his eyes again and gritted his teeth to fight back the nausea that washed over him at the smell of his own breath.

What the fuck did I do last night?

He waited until the bout of nausea passed and slowly opened his eyes once more. He was happy to find he could open them without making himself puke; it was progress. He stared up at the ceiling, confused. It wasn’t the ceiling of his room. His ceiling didn’t have those weird little texture-bumps all over it.

The next thing Winston noticed was the sound of someone else snoring. He turned his head to the side, wincing at the stab of pain the movement caused. His best friend, who liked to be called Steel, was lying facedown on the bed next to him, head turned facing his direction. Steel was still lost in sleep, snoring every so often.

Winston couldn’t face him long; Steel’s breath also reeked of cheap booze and poor decisions.

Staring back up at the ceiling, he tried to remember something, anything, from the night before. He and Steel had gone to a bar, that much he remembered—like he remembered it being Steel’s idea, because it was always Steel’s idea. The place was a dive, dimly lit, stinking of smoke and booze and sweat. At some point in the night, they’d been approached by a group of people who asked them to join their group. Winston had been hesitant, wanting to get in early, though he couldn’t recall why he’d kept insisting they leave. Steel had convinced him to stay, as always. Winston never could tell Steel no.

He vaguely recalled stumbling back to Steel’s apartment, which was near the club, unable to drive home, barely able to walk up the single flight of stairs to Steel’s apartment. At one point, he had thrown up, though he couldn’t remember when, and everything after that was a complete blur.

Grunting, he sat up, and immediately buried his head in his hands to fight the swelling nausea that threatened to empty the contents of his stomach. Once he had it under control, he turned toward Steel. The way the sheet fell, Winston couldn’t tell if Steel was dressed.

He looked down quickly, lifting the sheet off his own form. He was naked and sporting quite the morning wood despite his hangover. It was funny the things the body did.

Why the fuck am I naked?

He glanced at the clock. It was nearly nine in the morning. He searched around him, finding no sign of his cell phone or clothes. He turned, shaking Steel’s shoulder roughly. “Dude, where’re my clothes? Dude!” He shook harder, and Steel finally stirred long enough to roll onto his back, muttering something unintelligible.

Seeing Steel lying like that made Winston’s pulse quicken. He raked his eyes over his friend’s sleeping body, admiring the musculature. Steel wasn’t a gym bunny, but his body was lean from a rougher-than-average childhood, whipcord muscles standing out with his arms stretched over his head. The room was chilly—Steel always slept with his air conditioner on—and his nipples were stiff buds. The sheet pulled down just enough for Winston to see that he was wearing his typical boxers.

Everything about Steel drew him in. He’d known Steel since he was ten years old—almost eleven years, now. For pretty much the entirety of that friendship, Winston had been in love with him. Something he’d been unable to shake. Most of the time, he didn’t think he wanted to—and then other times, Steel drove him crazy, and not just in a sexual way.

Winston couldn’t help his eyes traveling down to the dragon tattoo on Steel’s calf—his leg was sticking out of the sheet—and his admiration was interrupted by a jolt of envy. Winston longed to have one of those tattoos himself, the mark of the Dragons, the gang—for lack of a better word—that ran the Eastern District. The underworld of Hong Kong, both the island city itself and the New Territories on the Mainland, was run by gangs, competing against one another and struggling to gain power.

The Dragons, though, they were different. They didn’t rule through fear, drugs, or terror, but by protecting and serving the community. Wei, the leader of the Dragons, didn’t allow drugs to be sold in the Eastern District, and he didn’t demand protection money from the people; he protected them because it was a duty he’d taken upon himself.

It was a duty Winston wanted to take up, too.

He reached out to touch Steel’s chest and stopped himself, instead slapping Steel’s stomach—though it might not have been safer to go near his friend’s lower body.

Steel jerked awake, swatting at Winston, who knew his friend well enough to move quickly out of reach. “What the hell, man?”

“Where are my clothes?”

Steel flopped back on the bed, closing his eyes tightly. Winston sympathized with what he must have been feeling at that moment, and he was thankful his nausea was mostly gone, leaving him with just the headache.

“Dude, my clothes?”

Steel inhaled and exhaled slowly several times before answering. “You don’t remember? You puked all over them last night, so they’re in the wash.”

So that was when he threw up. That question was answered. “Okay, so how did I manage to get them off?”

Steel chuckled despite how much pain his head must be in. “You didn’t. You just tugged at the shirt like a baby, and I finally got you undressed. Dick stiffed right up when I took off those little boy briefs, too. How long has it been since you got some action, Winston?”

The sound of his phone ringing jarred Winston, and he peered around for it, finding it on the bedside table next to him. He grabbed it and saw that it was Conroy Wong, Wei’s right-hand man in the Dragons.

“Hey, Conroy.” He hoped he didn’t sound too hungover. Conroy didn’t disapprove of drinking—the opposite, actually; he drank like a tank and never in his life seemed to have a hangover—but if he knew Winston had one, he would take great pleasure in torturing him in as many ways as he possibly could. “What’s up?”

“Yo, where the fuck are you, man?”

Dread coiled in Winston’s stomach; he didn’t like it when Conroy sounded angry at him. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. Just wanted to make sure your punk ass was up. A few of my boys told me you and Steel were out drinking ’til dawn. How ya feelin’?”

“I’m fine,” Winston lied. “Absolutely no problem.”

“Good, then you won’t mind hoppin’ in your car and driving to the airport,” said Conroy cheerfully. Winston guessed if he could see him at that moment, he’d have that smug little smile on his face that drove Winston crazy. “The boss is busy right now, and Noah will be arriving this afternoon. Wei refuses to let him just ride public transportation like a normal person, especially since—”

“Since the subway will take him through Twisted Viper territory,” Winston finished. He understood Wei’s concern; their recent run-ins with the Twisted Vipers had been far less than friendly, and temperatures were getting even colder, fast. Considering Noah was at the heart of that unfriendly encounter, Wei’s concern was completely justified.

“What time is he getting in?”

“Just after noon.”

“Damn it. That means I need to get going now.”

“Get on it.” Conroy hung up with that.

“What did Conroy want?” Steel asked. He was now sitting up in bed, looking relatively healthier. Winston felt a bit of resentment at his quick recovery.

“Asked me to ride out to the airport to get Noah. Wei’s busy.”

“Oh, is Noah coming back from America today?”

“I guess so.” Winston started out of the bed but stopped. “What the fuck am I going to wear?”

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Meet the Author

J.C. Long is an American expat living in Japan, though he’s also lived stints in Seoul, South Korea—no, he’s not an army brat; he’s an English teacher. He is also quite passionate about Welsh corgis and is convinced that anyone who does not like them is evil incarnate. His dramatic streak comes from his life-long involvement in theater. After living in several countries aside from the United States J. C. is convinced that love is love, no matter where you are, and is determined to write stories that demonstrate exactly that. J. C. Long’s favorite things in the world are pictures of corgis, writing and Korean food (not in that order…okay, in that order). J. C. spends his time not writing thinking about writing, coming up with new characters, attending Big Bang concerts and wishing he was writing. The best way to get him to write faster is to motivate him with corgi pictures. Yes, that is a veiled hint.

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